Reclaim your privacy by disabling your cellphone carrier’s data tracking

We’ve all heard before that our cellphones are listening to us and monitoring our every move. While this has been debunked (or, at least, explained), the fact of the matter is that data tracking is standard practice by the most popular mobile carriers these days.

And still in 2024, even with complaints from users, new tracking methods are continually emerging, making it harder for users to take back control of their data.

So, what do you need to know exactly about how your mobile carrier tracks your data? And how can you reclaim your privacy without having to say goodbye to your mobile carrier altogether?

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To start, let’s talk about what “data tracking” actually means. Data tracking is when companies collect information about a user’s online activities, including but not limited to their browsing history, location data, messaging information and app usage.

This data is used directly by the company collecting it or shared with third-party companies to ultimately tailor their advertising to you. (There are other justifications for this, such as “improving services.” But nowadays, targeted advertising is the primary reason, which leads users to feel more and more like their phones are listening in on them.)

Data tracking may look different from one company to the next. When it comes to mobile carriers, they can collect a wide range of information about their users, which is no surprise since, for most of us, our phones are an extension of ourselves. Therefore, it’s important for you to be aware of these practices and actively manage your privacy settings to maintain control over your personal information.

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Mobile carriers employ a variety of techniques to gather specific data from their users:

Feeling a bit surprised by all of this? Yeah, we are, too.

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If you don’t want your mobile carrier to have so much overarching access to your data, there are ways you can stop them. The problem is that most mobile carriers aren’t going to broadcast this information because it’s beneficial for them to maintain this access.

However, that’s why we’re here to help. Managing your data privacy involves understanding the settings available on your mobile device. Below, you will find instructions for disabling data tracking on devices served by the major U.S. carriers – T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T – as well as a general guide for other carriers.

To adjust privacy settings on a T-Mobile device:

Log into your T-Mobile account.

Additionally, T-Mobile offers a separate app to limit data shared with third-party advertisers through the Magenta Advertising Platform.

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To manage privacy settings on a Verizon device:

Resetting the Custom Experience settings will also stop Verizon from using previously collected browsing and location data.

To disable data tracking on an AT&T device:

It’s recommended that identity verification be kept active for security purposes.

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If you don’t use one of the above mobile carriers, the steps are likely very similar. But if you have any doubts, talk to your mobile carrier directly, perhaps by going into a store or searching online about how to do it for your specific carrier.

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While disabling carrier tracking is an important step, using a virtual private network (VPN) adds an extra layer of protection for your mobile data. A VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic and routes it through a secure server, shielding your online activities from prying eyes, including your carrier.

With a trusted VPN service, your carrier won’t be able to see which websites you visit, what you search for or the contents of your communications. Your IP address and location will also be masked. Setting up a VPN on your smartphone is easy and affordable, with many top providers offering mobile apps. Just be sure to choose a no-logs VPN with robust encryption that doesn’t sell your data to third parties. Combining VPN protection with disabling carrier tracking maximizes your privacy on the go. For the best VPN software, see my expert review of the best VPNs for browsing the web privately on your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.

Even as users voice their concerns about their data, mobile carriers are still finding creative arguments to justify what they take and why they take it. It’s more important than ever to take your data into our own hands and utilize these tips to keep your data private as much as possible. Remember, if your data falls into the wrong hands, you have a much higher chance of becoming a victim of a cybercrime.

What do you think about all this data privacy information? Will this information influence how you choose your mobile carrier in the future or how you’ll take control of your data? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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